Marker Honors Last Passenger Pigeon

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(Image of White Water Canal State Historic Site courtesy of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.) (Image of White Water Canal State Historic Site courtesy of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.)

A new state historical marker will be dedicated Monday in Franklin County. The marker will commemorate the nearby location where the last passenger pigeon to be collected in the wild was killed.

The Indiana Historical Bureau says the species was once the most abundant North American bird. The public dedication ceremony is set for 1 p.m. at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site in Metamora Monday, about five miles from where the bird was shot 115 years ago in Laurel.

The marker reads:

Known for flocks that darkened the sky, the passenger pigeon was once the most abundant North American bird. A population in the billions as late as 1860 was nearly zero by 1900. Communication and transportation advancements enabled market hunters to kill unprecedented numbers for food and sport. Species became extinct when the last captive bird died September 1, 1914. Before extinction, vast numbers of passenger pigeons migrated through Indiana, with many nesting in the state’s forests in the spring. Pigeon roosts, which spread over miles and could damage and topple trees, often attracted amazed onlookers and hunters. The last verified passenger pigeon in the wild was shot about five miles from here near Laurel on April 3, 1902. The public is invited to attend the dedication ceremony for this Indiana state historical marker that commemorates one of Indiana's important natural history topics. The marker celebrates the passenger pigeon and examines the reasons why this once abundant species became extinct by the twentieth century.

More than 600 markers are located throughout the state.

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